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USB-C for iPhone – EU laws to ban Lightning by 2024

There have been rumors about USB-C on iPhone for years. The connector is superior to both Lightning and old-style USB, and was designed to be a global standard across all brands and devices, making things simpler and cheaper for consumers. The convenience of a single charging cable powering every gadget in your house is undeniable – but Apple has held off adding it to iPhone despite using the connector on iPad and Mac.

Part of that is down to the sheer volume of Lightning cables and accessories out there from the last decade. Like when Apple switched from the iPhone’s original 30-pin connector, another connector change would obsolete thousands of gadgets and could annoy users in the short term. There’s also the rumor that Apple eventually wants to remove all ports from the iPhone at some point, relying solely on wireless charging. If that’s true, it makes sense to keep Lightning around for now rather than make two big changes in a short period.

However, European lawmakers may force Apple’s hand. The EU has been planning a directive for years now to force gadget makers to use the universal USB-C port across all smartphones, tablets, and cameras. This week, European parliament voted the law in by a crushing 602 votes to 13, meaning that – at least in Europe – Apple will soon be unable to sell new iPhones with Lightning ports.

Although the law has now been agreed, it won’t actually come into effect until late 2024, giving companies time to shift plans. With Apple’s yearly iPhone refresh coming every September, that likely means it won’t be affected until the iPhone 17 rolls around in September 2025. So don’t go expecting Apple to make the change any time soon.

In that timeframe, any number of things could happen. Apple may cave in to popular demand and adopt the USB-C standard on future iPhones. It may decide to make the change just for Europe and stick with Lightning in US markets. (It has previous with adjustments for different markets, like the iPhone 14 going E-SIM only in the US but sticking with a physical SIM card elsewhere.)

Apple may even decide to ditch the ports completely by the time the law comes into effect, ushering in a wireless future. This would be a blow to pro users who use the port for accessories or data transfer, and Apple would surely want to improve the speed and efficiency of wireless charging before removing all other options. But we’ve suspected for several years that a port-free iPhone is the end-game, and it might be that the EU pushes Apple into producing one ahead of schedule.

Finally – and perhaps most likely – Apple could try to appeal the law or argue for an exception. We can’t see this working in the long term, but Apple has a huge legal team and plenty of money to throw at the problem. Just delaying the inevitable for another year or two might be useful enough, as it works on that fully wireless iPhone we mentioned earlier.

Whatever the outcome, ultimately this feels like the EU pushing for more convenience for consumers. Proprietary cables help nobody except the company that makes them, and the iPhone is long overdue a switch.